Let me start by saying I LOVE TECHNOLOGY and we are a very technology friendly household, but I am beginning to notice something – something very unsettling.
Back when we were in high school, there was gossip, rumors, love triangles, fights, rivalries, and all the normal high school drama. The difference was that for the most part, the drama stayed at school. You came home, did your homework, maybe talked on the phone (note, TALKED), went to sports practices, had dinner with the family, maybe watched some TV and then went to bed.
Today’s teens never get a break. The have the same kind of teenage drama at school, but it follows them home, only to be relived and made larger via texts, Facebook, email and the like. It doesn’t have a cooling off period. Emotions are not properly conveyed via texts that are made up of 3 and 4 letter acronyms, nor are they conveyed in a little pop up box also known as chat. And there is that thing called instant gratification that is always needing to be filled – as in, if I send you a text or Facebook message, I expect you to respond right away – or I might just hyperventilate.
This is an issue we are having to tackle head on with our 15 year old and 13 year old. They both have had situations recently where drama that should have stayed at school or at sports practice followed them home via texting or Facebook. My 15 year old has a Facebook account but the 13 year old does not. In both cases, my kids were noticeably stressed about the situations. Neither situation is really anything bad – no bullying or anything – just drama, typical teenage drama. But because it followed them home, it made it that much harder for them to work through it on their own.
My son seemed to be most affected by this social overload and it is really starting to affect schoolwork, mood and more. I decided today called for a Technology Timeout! No phone, iPod, computer, Facebook or web browsing for that matter. Instead, he came with me to run errands, watched some hockey on TV with his Dad, and was ready for bed by 9. The funny thing was, he didn’t fight me on it one bit – it was almost like he welcomed it – and his mood was the best it has been in weeks. I may do this more often.
What do you think? How do you manage texting, Facebook and social media time with your teens?